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Jefferson Park, Portage Park

After Years Of Waiting, Lake Effect Brewing’s Plan To Open Taproom In Old Firehouse May Get OK Next Month

If the city gives final approval to the plan this summer, construction could start the fall.

Rendering of plans for the brewery taproom and new apartments at 4841 N. Lipps Ave.
Ambrosia Homes
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JEFFERSON PARK — Lake Effect Brewing Company may soon be able to start construction to take over a historic vacant firehouse in Jefferson Park. 

The brewery has been working with builder Ambrosia Homes to acquire the 4841 N. Lipps Ave. firehouse from the city for the past four years. 

The plan is to convert it into a brewery with a tasting room on the ground floor for Lake Effect and then have apartments on the firehouse’s other floors.

After years of the project creeping its way through the city’s various departments, the plans will be presented to the city’s zoning committee next month. If the zoning committee signs off, the project will go before the full City Council for approval July 22. 

Lake Effect is currently nestled between two underpasses and behind a costume shop at 4727 W. Montrose Ave. Clint Bautz, Lake Effect’s owner, has been in business for eight years but said having a taproom is the next step to growing the business.

“It was taking so long to get approved I started looking at other possible locations. Some of them were outside of the city,” Bautz said. “But then I got a call about the firehouse moving forward again which was music to my ears.”

Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) has submitted letters of support for the project, Bautz said. Gardiner did not respond to a request for comment. 

In March 2018, Ambrosia unveiled its plans to invest $2.4 million in the historic firehouse originally built in 1906.

The historic firehouse is located at 4835 N. Lipps Ave.

Original plans called for the developer to renovate the space into a four-story, mixed-use project with Lake Effect on the first floor and apartments on the firehouse’s other floors. 

After residents asked the developer to preserve the look of the firehouse, the height was adjusted to three floors for a total of nine apartments above the brewery. 

Tim Pomaville, Ambrosia’s president, says the slow process was expected due to the complexities of acquiring city-owned property and the various city departments that had approve it.  

“As it travels through the city, each department usually adds their input and now we’re finally in the zoning department phase,” he said. 

During the review process, the city’s environmental department removed an underground storage tank at the property and identified some lead and asbestos contamination that must be remediated during construction.

Pomaville hopes the city finalizes the plan this summer so construction crews can start renovating in the fall. 

“I’m super excited and can’t wait to get this over the finish line,” he said.

A historic photo shows what the firehouse at 4841 N. Lipps Ave. used to look like.

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